Painted oars or decals – which is best?

Time to sharpen up your oars

Not only does it look cool, it also gives parents and other spectators on the sidelines a chance to actually know what boat they are looking at coming down the race course!  We’ll look at all the steps of doing basic oar paint jobs, and talk about some alternatives such as having them painted at the factory for you or just skipping the paint and using simple vinyl decals instead.

Whats best for the blade?

This part is kind of a matter of opinion, but you can take a look at the chart below and decide for yourself what will suit your club.  The colour coding is Green = super easy.  Red = super hard.  Yellow is in between.
rowing oar painting chart
Oar paint or stick on decal?
Jon Kotwicki wrote the chart and is an expert boatman from the RowIntel website.
Please make a donation to help him keep this excellent resource free.

Oar painting resources

Want to learn how to paint oars?  Here’s a list of helpful resources

Did we miss any?  Send us more links.

10 thoughts on “Painted oars or decals – which is best?

  1. Chris Kenyon says:

    No brainer – I used to paint blades – 2 colours = 6 coats (1 undercoat and 2 gloss per coat and hen all that drying time. I use decals applied to the standard white Concept2 powder coating. Can do a set of 8 in a matter of minutes rather than days. Painting powder coated blades is a nightmare anyway and quite pointless as the powder coat will outlast even International Yacht Paint several times over. Simple decals are not expensive and can easily be replaced when those who insist on scraping their blades along the landing have damaged them……

  2. Terry Gibbons says:

    Can decals affect efficiency by changing the flow of water over the blade?
    Though I imagine it would be trivial next to damage to the blade or poor technique

  3. Brian Helms says:

    Is there a specific company selling these decals? How do they deal with the uneven surface on some blade types? What if the vinyl was textured? Would that add more grip? Are there rules against that?

    • Rebecca Caroe says:

      Brian many companies sell decals. As far as I know there’s no rule about getting better grip being against the rules.

    • Rebecca Caroe says:

      Marietta – most adhesive can be removed with a combination of heat and solvents. I agree that some “elbow grease” may be required too. You can also use a sander to remove stubborn parts.

  4. Barry says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    Came across Mike Davenport on youtube showing how easy it is to vinyl wrap blades – – his other videos are useful too.

    It’s American so he uses for the vinyls and they don’t deliver to the UK.

    You could try or any car wrapping / commercial printers that could provide bigger sheets of vinyl that you cut down to size. Haven’t tried this yet but plan to in the next few months.

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